Dads are Light Towers

Cape-Neddick-Light-TowerI was burning off the week’s calories at the fitness corner at Mapletree Park the other day when I saw an adorable boy decked in his Ben-10 singlet, kiddy bermudas and runners. Only about my waist level, he waddled down the bend of the concrete track with flailing arms.

How strange, I thought! At 7.45 on a Tuesday morning, the majority of park-goers are silver-haired retirees, with a handful of the working crowd who have traded their crisp office shirts for their running singlets to kick-start the day.

It was then that a little girl appeared behind the boy as she came round the bend, visibly slower than her sibling although her courageous trudging along deserved credit. For me, this was a most inspiring scene – two little kids striving to finish their run.

But there was more to this than that. The moderator of it all was their father, a well-built, lean and late middle-aged man in his army singlet that mirrored mine. With his clean, high sloped haircut, he reminded me of someone in active military service who was transcending the value of fighting spirit and discipline to his kids. Standing off the track on the grass patch, he held one of those black, no frills Casio digital watch in the palm of his hand.

“5 minutes… 21, 22, 23…” the Dad chanted as the little boy passed him. “Push on!”

When mei-mei decelerated into a brisk walk in the wake of her brother, the Dad egged her on. “Don’ t stop, keep walking! You don’t need to be as fast as kor-kor!” he assured her as the little sister passed by for yet another gruelling round, her head held high.

When the kids were done, the three headed in my direction at the sit-up bench. Impressed by the determination of the kids, I raised my thumb and exclaimed, “Good job!”

Perhaps they were surprised at the sight of a sweat-drenched guy sharing his admiration of two gutsy kids. Nonetheless, after digesting the impromptu goodwill, the Dad smiled. More heartwarming was the pride in his eyes when he looked at his two young children.

For me at that moment, this Dad personified what Dads do best, being a light tower to his children. On one hand, inviting wandering, weary vessels from darkness into warm, comforting light and on the other, resting with the knowledge that while a ship in the harbour is safe, this is not what ships are built for.

This Dad cajoles, motivates and guides his ships from the high seas into a safe haven with the intimate understanding of every ship’s limitations. His encouraging words – “You don’t need to be as fast as kor-kor!” still rings in my ears and have found a place in my heart.

One day, human light towers will turn to dust, but the lessons learnt, the encouragement remembered, the love and understanding of an enlightened Dad will remain in his children’s heart. Until then, even in choppy waters, the anchor which all Dads provide is the very beacon of hope as such light towers continue to say,

“Press on!”

“Don’ t stop, keep walking! You don’t have to be as fast as kor-kor!”


Also read the following articles by Paul Sim:

  1. Dad’s Changing Hat’s – A Son Reflects
  2. Of Dad and Home-cooked Dinners
  3. PSLE to Degree: Dad’s Role in My Singapore Education


About the Author: Paul Sim Ruiqi, a Dentistry undergraduate at National University of Singapore reflects from a perspective of son and one day dad-to-be, on the role dads play in the lives of their children.